For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) possesses two-thirds of Africa's tropical forests, has a rich subsoil and a significant hydroelectric potential. The economy has suffered political conflicts over the past two decades. In 2022, the economy grew 6.1%, mainly driven by an increase in mining sector investment and exports. In 2023 and 2024, mining should remain the main contributor to the country's growth, with GDP being expected to reach 6.7% and 6.9%, respectively.
The economy of the DRC is mainly based on extractive industries, which are very dependent on world prices and international economic dynamics. The country's economy is therefore fragile and vulnerable to shocks. In 2023, with copper and cobalt prices expected to remain high, production and exports are set to increase in the coming years, which should continue to benefit the economy as a whole. In 2022, inflation decreased to 8.4%, thanks to a relatively more stable Congolese franc. However, inflation should increase to 9.8% in 2023, before decreasing to 5.6% in 2024. The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased in 2021, to 14.7%, and it further decrease in the coming years, reaching 10.8% in 2023 and 9% in 2024. Although the pandemic has significantly impacted the Congolese economy, the country has been recovering, with the government implementing measures to counteract the economic crisis resulting from it. However, although a relatively low inflation and a robust recovery plan have bolstered private consumption in the country, its contribution to growth was constrained by the large share of the population living below the poverty line.
The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 70% of the population living in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2020). It is among the lowest-ranked in the human development index and violence is frequent, especially in the east of the country. According to the latest data from the World Bank, in 2021, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 22.2% - a slight decrease from the previous year, when that rate was 22.5%. However, among the employed share of the population, a high percentage of workers have informal jobs.
|Main Indicators||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||48.71||56.52||62.86||69.47||77.08|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||1.7||6.2||6.6||6.3||6.5|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||536||603||649||695||747|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||16.7||16.3||14.6||11.0||9.0|
|Inflation Rate (%)||11.4||9.0||9.0||10.8||7.2|
|Current Account (billions USD)||-1.10||-0.54||-1.40||-2.72||-2.34|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||-2.2||-0.9||-2.2||-3.9||-3.0|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data
Note: (e) Estimated Data
The agricultural sector represented 19% of GDP in 2021 and employed 64.3% of the population (World Bank). The vast majority of the population is engaged in agricultural activities for their subsistence and not for commercial purposes. The main crops are cassava, plantains, yams, rice and corn. Farmers across the country were negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, as border closures limited trade flows of agricultural inputs, which resulted in a decrease in the country's planted area, fewer agricultural jobs, and overall below-average production. However, as restrictions lifted in 2021, the sector began to show signs of recovery.
The industrial sector contributed to 45.3% of GDP in 2021, and employed 9.8% of the population. The country is presented with vast natural resources, the mining sector playing a major role in the economy and being the main source of export earnings. The Katanga region is particularly rich in minerals, including copper, cobalt, zinc, cassiterite, manganese, coal, silver, cadmium, germanium (a fragile element used as a semiconductor), gold, palladium (a metallic element used as catalyst and in alloys), uranium and platinum. The DRC also has deposits of gas (methane) and diamonds. Manufacturing plays a marginal role in the country's economy, due to the lack of skilled labour and machinery. Industrial activity in the DRC continued to experience growth in 2022, registering a steady recovery from the impacts of the pandemic, with the export of metals and minerals being major contributors to the sector's growth.
The services sector represented 33.2% of GDP in 2020 and employed 25.9% of the working population. The banking system is dominated by foreign companies, but only a fraction of the Congolese have a bank account. Tourism is also underdeveloped due to the prevailing security problems in the country. Even though the services sector was negatively impacted by the pandemic, it registered an overall growth in 2022, which, according to the IMF, was among the highest in region.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||64.3||9.8||25.9|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||19.0||45.3||33.2|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||2.4||7.8||5.5|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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|Congolese Franc (CDF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR||28.43||42.47||47.81||46.42||47.05|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The DRC is open to international trade, which represents 80.5% of its GDP (2021, World Bank). Former president Joseph Kabila’s government has established a series of reforms intended to improve the business climate and to diversify exports. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the major exporting countries on the continent and a driver of African growth. The country's mainly exports refined copper (49.8%), cobalt (23.4%), copper ore (6.6%), crude petroleum (5.7%), and diamonds (2.9%); while it imports chiefly medicaments (4.9%), refined petroleum (3.9%), sulfuric acid (2.4%), stone processing machines (2.1%), and delivery trucks (2%).
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s key trading partners are China, Zambia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The DRC is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC), and the WTO. Furthermore, in 2022, the country signed bilateral agreements on cooperation in various sectors with Turkey, including defence and security, infrastructure and transport, non-double taxation, and investment promotion.
Although the DRC's trade balance was structurally negative, the takeover of the raw material prices plays in favour of the exports growth and of the rebalancing of current accounts, making the country’s trade balance was positive in the last few years. The merchandise trade surplus increased to USD 3.9 billion in 2021, as imports of goods amounted to USD 10.3 billion, while exports reached USD 23.5 billion.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||4,900||7,930||8,825||6,663||10,300|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||7,900||20,004||13,382||14,122||23,500|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||1,779||2,665||2,132||2,496||0|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||59||89||126||115||0|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||38.7||22.6||-15.3||12.0||43.6|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||7.3||14.2||1.4||8.0||8.2|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||39.0||37.4||29.4||29.9||40.1|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||35.3||32.6||25.9||28.6||40.4|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||208||994||400||1,923||3,940|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||-1,406||-1,693||-1,719||-624||161|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||74.3||69.9||55.2||58.5||80.5|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data
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|0.2 bn USD of services exported in 2020|
|Business travelBusiness travel||52.97%|
|Other personal, cultural, and...Other personal, cultural, and recreational services||5.88%|
|Merchanting and other trade-related...Merchanting and other trade-related services||2.89%|
|Other trade-related servicesOther trade-related services||2.89%|
|Telecommunications servicesTelecommunications services||2.50%|
|2.7 bn USD of services imported in 2020|
|Merchanting and other trade-related...Merchanting and other trade-related services||20.48%|
|Other trade-related servicesOther trade-related services||20.48%|
|Business travelBusiness travel||7.57%|
|Construction in the compiling...Construction in the compiling economy||2.43%|
|Other personal, cultural, and...Other personal, cultural, and recreational services||0.33%|
|Telecommunications servicesTelecommunications services||0.16%|
Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
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Latest Update: September 2023